Research

Working Papers

Revisiting Public Support for Democratization in China: From Regime Preference to Democratic Suitability

Do the Chinese people prefer a democratic system? And how much do they support
democratization? Using national survey data, this study finds that younger people in China tend to prefer a multi-party democracy (multi-party with open and competitive elections), people with more education tend to support either a multi-party democracy or a single-party system that holds open and competitive elections (single-party elections), and people with higher social status tend to support singe-party elections in China. Besides, this article demonstrates that people’s regime preferences are strong, independent predictors of their evaluations of democracy’s suitability for China today, both before and after controlling for demographic factors. Specifically, people who prefer a multi-party democracy in China tend to think democracy is less suitable for today’s China, whereas people who prefer single-party elections tend to regard democracy as more suitable. In essence, while the Chinese people hold strong democratic expectations, especially regarding the electoral system, most are supporters of the single-party system and those preferring a multi-party democracy tend to consider democracy as less suitable. This implies public support is high for democratic improvements, especially regarding elections, based on the existing one-party system, and low for a systemic democratization in China today.

Censorship as Deterrence: How Experience with State’s Censorship Makes Chinese Netizens Constrain Online Activism

Beyond control of information ex-post, online censorship in China works to deter netizens from posting information off the boundaries by making people more likely to conduct self-censorship ex-ante. Using a survey study, this article finds that average netizens’ experience with censorship is positively correlated with their self-censorship behaviors. Meanwhile, such experience with censorship by itself does not decrease netizens’ actual activist behaviors as experience with censorship is positively correlated with activist online behaviors. Moreover, ceteris paribus, netizens who have behaved actively and those who have not have similar tendencies to conduct self-censorship before posting activist information online. These findings imply that many people with activist propensities are not willing to act beyond the boundaries and many activist behaviors online have already been constrained by netizens. While the average Chinese netizens indeed become less likely to act off the boundaries after their experience with censorship, the inhibition of activist behaviors does not by itself alleviate underlying tensions between the people and the state. And thus the people can still hold activist predispositions even if they tend to constrain their online behaviors. One important implication of this article is that netizens in authoritarian China tend to exhibit both higher activist behaviors and more behavioral inhibitions after they have personally experienced Internet censorship mandated by the regime.

Work in Progress

From Money to Politics: How a Stock Market Crash in China Decreased Regime Support from the Rich

Compliance, Worry, and Prospect: Big-Five Personality Traits as Strong and Independent Predictors of Political Ideologies in China
Initiatives and Last Resorts: Measuring Democratic Survival Based on Antecedent Autocratic Regime Types and Past Democratic Experiences